If you have a criminal record in the United States you are likely to be denied entry into Canada. Even if you are not convicted, there is still a strong possibility that the arrest or charge will still appear when a search is conducted. Canada weighs a conviction in the United States, as well as other foreign counties, against their own legal system statutes. A misdemeanor in the Unites States may be considered a more serious offence in Canada, so do not assume this “minor” conviction will not be an issue for you when trying to cross the border. A DUI/DWI in the United States can easily bar a person from entering Canada. Being turned away at the border can be embarrassing and can completely disrupt your travel plans. Rest assured, this can be avoided!

Criminal rehabilitation is an alternate status one can earn to avoid being denied. It is a process in which a person who is deemed inadmissible to Canada due to security concerns, submits a request to the Canadian Government to be absolved of their criminal inadmissibility. http://www.cicnews.com/2012/10/canadian-criminal-rehabilitation-immigration-purposes-101927.html

Don’t risk trying to cross the border with a criminal record. Not only is it illegal but it can also lead to your denial, removal and in some cases, detention. As Canada and the US share a criminal record database, if you have committed an offence that is deemed criminal, it will be documented in the system.

Crimes that will make you inadmissible to Canada include DUI, shoplifting, assault and many other common offences.

There are certain circumstances in which individuals may be deemed rehabilitated. This would be dependent on:

  • The crime you committed
  • How serious the crime was
  • How much time has passed since you completed your sentence
  • 5 years for two or more summary convictions
  • 10 years for one indictable offence
  • Whether you committed one or more crimes
  • If the crime would be punishable in Canada by a maximum prison term of less than 10 years

What if I have convictions or offences in both Canada and the United States?

If you have convictions from outside of Canada and in Canada, Rehabilitation and a Record Suspension from the Parole Board of Canada is also required. An application for rehabilitation cannot be made until a record suspension has been granted. The only exception would be if you only had one summary conviction in Canada.

  • You are deemed rehabilitated if at least 10 years have passed after the commission of the offence. The offence must be deemed non-serious criminality (only 1 conviction on your record)
  • If you were convicted of two (2) or more offences outside of Canada that, if you were convicted in Canada, would constitute summary convictions, you are NOT eligible for individual rehabilitation and must wait 5 years at the end of

Processing times can take from 2 weeks be up to a year, so ensure you plan your trip in advance. Do not be intimidated by the process and don’t assume that just because of your past that you will not be able to gain entry. For example, a juvenile record may not be a barrier to enter the country. Be sure to contact Pardon Services Canada for more information.